Joshua Chaplinsky's Fantastic Fest Diary: THE REVENANT

Contributor; Queens, New York (@jaceycockrobin)
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Joshua Chaplinsky's Fantastic Fest Diary: THE REVENANT
For anyone that was there, I'm the jerk that flipped off the screen and walked out during the screening of The Revenant at Fantastic Fest this year. 

For those who weren't, The Revenant is an irritatingly mediocre horror-comedy featuring a David Spade lookalike and his recently deceased pal, Bart.

After returning from the war in Iraq minus a soul, Bart is laid to rest by his family and friends. But apparently that rest is short lived, and he awakens from his  dirt power nap with a thirst for blood. After clawing his way out of the grave, he seeks out his best friend Joey to help him adjust to his new life as a member of the walking undead. Shenanigans ensue. 

In retrospect, The Revenant isn't the worst movie I've ever seen. It's been getting good buzz on the festival circuit and has even won some awards, so I wasn't expecting to have such a visceral negative reaction. But I did. Seeing how this was the 16th film I'd seen in four days, I have come to the conclusion that I was suffering from "Festival Fatigue."   Festival Fatigue is a condition defined (by me) as a proportionate lack of patience in direct relation to the quality and quantity of films viewed in a short period of time. The shorter the time period and the shittier the films, the more adverse the reaction.

So it was only ten minutes into The Revenant when my ire started rising and I knew I wasn't going to make it. I had just come off a string of four films I really liked, and could have easily sat through something good, but the mediocrity of The Revenant was multiplied exponentially by almost four days of movie watching and I snapped. I had to get out of there.

After the film let out, the general consensus was that I was a dick, because the director was in the audience to witness my little display. I was lambasted as such by my friends as well as the Austin social elite. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to the filmmaker. My single digit salute was more of an explanation of my feelings to my friends as I vacated the premises. In fact, I had no idea the director was in the audience. But this is not an apology. My reaction was as honest a one as he is likely to get and he should take it for what it's worth.

I was also informed that I missed out on the best parts of the film, especially the ending, which most of my friends seemed to enjoy. It seems my opinion was in the minority, but once you start down the road of hating a film, it is hard to turn around. It is like pulling an airplane out of a nosedive.

If this had been one of the first films I'd seen, or I'd seen it as a one-off, I probably would not have been so harsh. I don't think I would have liked it, but I probably would have made it through till the end. Take it for what it's worth. Consider this a cautionary tale, to filmmakers and moviegoers alike. Beware of Festival Fatigue. 
Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor for He has also written for

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More about The Revenant

keeperdesignOctober 5, 2009 2:13 PM

So you feel good about passing judgment on the film after seeing 10-15 minutes of it? Wow. Not only did you get this one wrong, you embarrassed yourself in the process, and made Twitch look bad by extension.

I saw "Revenant" on my 8th day of 5-film days at FF, and I loved it. It's polished, funny, and offers a distinctly unique take on the zombie genre.

One reader's opinion: The smart and decent thing to do is to excuse yourself from reviewing any movies you haven't actually seen. What's next, you'll review films based on their previews? If you don't like a film, by all means walk out, but most grown-ups don't feel it's necessary to "explain" an early exit, particularly not in a boorish way. I'm sorry if you were tired from seeing other films, but lots of us were there for the whole fest and saw lots of films, liked more than others, and we didn't feel the need to gesture at or heckle the screen if something wasn't up to our expectations. By the 10pm "Kamagawa Horumo" on day 8 I was plenty fatigued, but I still managed to behave like a human.

madamecurryOctober 5, 2009 2:29 PM

I saw this at the Crypticon Film Fest this last June, I found the the idea interesting, the filming was well done but the movie it's self had such an independent feel to it that it felt like a bit of a distraction being so self aware of it's self. I felt the characters were inconsistent and that the film went on far too long, at least it felt like if should have and could have ended a number of times. Some editing of scenes would have helped.
Granted, I did view this at midnight and may have been a bit tired and con-ed out, but I felt like this film wasn't sure what it wanted to be. Regardless, I did find some enjoyment out of it and the concept was interesting and different from most films of the genre.

Joshua ChaplinskyOctober 5, 2009 3:10 PM


I actually made it about halfway through. I should have been clearer on that. And if you'll notice, this is not really billed as a review, but as a festival diary, which is more anecdotal in nature.

As for being boorish, I fully cop to being a dick, which is pretty much the point of the piece. I was just trying to present a unique view of the festival, with as much honesty and humor as possible. Considering my actions, I have no intention of denying you your opinion of them.

keeperdesignOctober 5, 2009 5:23 PM

The phrase "I fully cop to being a dick" was funny enough that I'm over any hard feelings!

My fest fatigue manifested in nodding off during "Drawn & Quartered" and sadly giving away my ticket to "Human Centipede" so I could get some extra shuteye.

Joshua ChaplinskyOctober 5, 2009 11:30 PM

Oh man, you missed out on Human Centipede. :)